News Article

Kokuga Publisher Believes The Shoot-em-‘up Genre Faces a "Very Difficult Crossroads" in Japan

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

"You are not able to make a living on just making shooters"

Kokuga's arrival on the 3DS eShop this Summer was certainly welcomed by shoot-em-‘up fans, especially as Hiroshi Iuchi's name was on the project. As was made clear to us in our interview with G.rev CEO Hiroyuki Maruyama, however, the market for these titles is smaller than it perhaps was in the past; he explained that "the decline of the shooter is largely related to the diminishing demand for traditional game-like games", and that it was a release for "consumers that still demand" these kinds of experiences.

Maruyama-san has been addressing this concern once again, talking to Siliconera about the challenges in the Japanese market.

Yes, the current shooting market in Japan is at a very difficult crossroads. I am certain that the genre will not fade away at the dojin level, but in terms of an incorporated studio, to put it bluntly – you are not able to make a living on just making shooters.

With that in mind, you can say that we made Kokuga to target a more general audience. Since you can play with up to four people with only one copy of the game, we hope that established shmup fans will use the game to promote the genre to new gamers.

If the genre is struggling in Japan, it perhaps faces greater challenges still in the West, though it could be argued that shmup games have enjoyed significant popularity on consoles outside of Japan in past generations — but is it enough for these games to be profitable? EnjoyUp Games clearly thinks so, recently announcing Project Aguraki for the Wii U eShop.

Did you pick up Kokuga, and do you still like to buy and play shoot-em-‘up games? Let us know in the comments below.


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User Comments (17)



XCWarrior said:

I love SCHMUPs. They can't have a high cost to make them. Usually 2D, graphics aren't usually insane. So those have to be two pluses. As long as they make a couple a year, that's good enough for me.



element187 said:

"Shoot-em-‘up Genre Faces a "Very Difficult Crossroads" in Japan"

It faces a crossroads in every region.... The genre was great 30 years ago, but I don't see any shmups doing even half way decent today. Back in the late 70's and early 80's, video games were really basic, so they tend to not have very much depth.... and thats the problem with shoot em ups, The gameplay hasn't changed in 30 years, so if you played galactica, then you played every shoot em up that will come out.



ricklongo said:

I haven't gotten Kokuga yet, but that's mainly to the amount of unfinished games I have on my plate. I definitely enjoy the odd shmup every now and then.



CrazyOtto said:

Shmups have it even worse in NA and EU, even RPGs are actually popular and sell decently in NA and EU compared to shmups, which is a shame since I really enjoy shmups.



Einherjar said:

The problem i see with SHMUPS is, that the most famous ones, so the ones that even non fans know, are mostly bullet hell or generally very hard games (Ikaruga, Radiant Silvergun etc) So, there is literally no entry point for newcommers to get a hang of the genre if the first thing they see is a giant roadblock of a learning curve. Its a similar problem with fighters. Most cater only towards people who already know and love the genre. And since devs seem to focus more on just making games from a well known franchise to ensure sales, there is no room for the occasional newcommer friendly experiment, or you loose that fanbase also.



DrKarl said:

@Einherjar Spot on. There really aren't many intro games. Sin and Punishment as well as Star Parodier come to mind. Although Star Parodier is kind of an odd duck.



TruenoGT said:

@Einherjar Right on the money. The genre is pretty daunting for any newcomer. Even some of the more lighthearted fare like Parodius is still pretty unforgiving. Though there are few lower level games, I will say that Twinbee is a pretty good entry point and the 3D Classics version would a be great way to see what the genre's all about.



Einherjar said:

@TruenoGT @DrKarl Talking about twinbee, yes, that would be a good entry point, but then you habe a different problem: The appeal. SHMUPS are mostly gritty games about spaceships, if you get into the genre with a colorful game like that, would other games of that genre but with a drasticly different style still appeal to you ?
A good example for that would be the Final Fantasy series. People who got into the series on the early titles (say, the SNES) tend to like FF VIIs blocky character models because they are reminecent of the older character sprites, while people who got into the series way later (X for example) cant get the appeal and charme at all.
But since asthetics are completely taste based, theres no point in arguing about that
But as hard as i think, i cant imagine a recent SHMUP that would be a good starting point into the genre. Although the 360 got a lot of SHMUPS over the past couple of years, they are almost all bullet hell games. Even Shin´ens SHMUPS are definitly not for the faint hearted.
There needs to be a SHMUP with a drasticly customizable difficulty setting, that is accessable for newcommers but doesnt alienate veterans...and frankly speaking, thats almost impossible. But the release of a light hearted SHMUP would get so much flak from the so called "elitists", that the bad press alone would turn off newcommers (I never tried that genre, but people say the game is bad, so i wont try it).
But like i said, its the same with fighting games. Ask a casual Street Fighter player if he likes playing online...
As weird as it may sound, thats what i like about recent WiiU fighters. The low playerbase may sound negative at first, but it also means that most "hardcore players" are out of the picture, playing PS360. So you can compete in online matches without constantly running into people grinding you to dust and spamming you with inslut mails afterwards.

But back on topic: maybe someone could open up a SHMUP recommendation thread in the forums, scaled by newby friendlynes



DarkCoolEdge said:

I bought Nano Assault EX just a couple of weeks ago and it is the third shmup I' ve ever bought, being both Sin & Punishment the other two.

I would have bought Kokuga if it wasn't for its price. 15€ is a lot for a game I'm not totally sold on. In fact, I got Nano Assault because of the discount and I'm not particurly happy, it doesn't control very well even with the cpp.



unrandomsam said:

Cave seem to be ok doing just shmups.

I bought kokuga day one. (Same with RECCA).

I am thinking of getting a 360 just for under defeat HD.

Problem is they have gone down hill.

None of them are as good as anything made by COMPILE (or with them involved).

What we should be aiming for is what it would be like if compile made a saturn aleste.

I would have imported kokuga at full price if I could.



unrandomsam said:

Doesn't help that the people reviewing them dont really like them. (Same thing that effects none contra run n guns).

There is one PS3/PC sidescrolling one that just looks nice but it is junk. (And it was rated Super High)
The reason Milestone folded was because of criminal acts as far as I know. (Not bothered about bullet hells particularly but if I have no other choice I will play them.



Denkou said:

I know its more of a "bullet hell" than a SHMUP, but I can't help but mention the fact that the touhou series is more well known than water and more profitable than oil in Japan at the moment, despite there being only a few dozen "official" games.

It's probably not helping the current difficulties that are limiting development of SHMUP's at the moment as a huge population of japanese gamers are getting their top down shooter fix in the form of bullet hells, either from touhou itself or fan games made in similar style.



Meffaliss said:

I personally believe that some reasons why the shoot-em-up genre isn't as profitable are that they try to one-up one another and that they just do the same thing and most of the time have boring patterns or poorly designed ones. Now don't get me wrong, I LOVE shoot-em-ups and arcade games in general but the last few shoot-em-ups I played were just not that great (except for the PC only Jamestown, that one was very good). I was interested in kokuga at first when I heard about it but the more I saw about it, like the controls and scoring system, the less interested I became. Again, those are my own personal thoughts.



Gameday said:

I'll always love my shmups never get old to me. Wish there were more released on arcade or eshop !



HunteROB said:

I didn't buy Kokuga because it didn't come out in Canada. I emailed Nintendo about it, I emailed G.Rev about it, I still haven't the slightest clue why.



Araknie said:

It lasted good till 5 years ago with popcorn games that were free and helped the genre, and some even very well done to be free games.

Now, we have indies that provide a safe market for self-publishers, big or little, but free games suffer this.

Since SHUMPS were big in the free market now, with that fading every day more, it's suffering from all this copyright protection.

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